Saracens’ Alex Lozowski ready to fill potential Owen Farrell void
England talisman ‘touch and go’ for Sunday’s Champions Cup quarter-final with Leinster
Alex Lozowski tackles Francis Saili during Saracens’ win over Harlequins. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty
Farrell, who finished England’s Six Nations campaign at outhalf after four matches in the centre, missed Saracens’ 24-11 Premiership win against Harlequins at the Olympic Stadium and, along with the second-row George Kruis, was rated “touch and go” for the game by the club’s director of rugby, Mark McCall.
Lozowski, who kicked 14 points against Quins, is also an option at inside-centre, where Brad Barritt failed to complete the game at the home of West Ham United before a crowd of more than 55,000, though he is expected to be fit to lead the side against Leinster.
“I will do whatever the team needs, whether that is starting or coming off the bench to make a difference,” Lozowski said. “Everyone wants to play in the big games. I signed for Saracens because we hope to be competing at the top end of these competitions.
“Everyone is massively excited about next week. We have a couple of days off and will come back in firing on Tuesday. It was a huge boost to have a number of international players back against Harlequins and we hope to have a few more next week for a match that will have the intensity of a Test with so many internationals on both sides.”
Saracens retained the Champions Cup in May last year, finishing the tournament unbeaten for the second season running. Leinster are the only side yet to lose in the tournament this season and the holders are in the unusual position of going into the match as underdogs.
“I do not know about that,” Lozowski said. “We played Munster there last season and had a good result [in the semi-final]. We can take confidence from that. Leinster are a brilliant side full of confidence and we know we are going to have to go up a few gears from the victory over Harlequins.
“We had not played for a couple of weeks so there were areas that were rusty. Having the internationals back is a big boost for us. We had a sticky patch in the middle of the season when we lost a few games, but we knew we would come out of the other side as long as we backed each other. We are now looking to kick on.”
One of the returning internationals was the second-row Maro Itoje, who scored Saracens’ second try and looked anything but the player in desperate need of a rest that he was labelled by pundits after the Six Nations. “He is always full of energy,” Lozowski said. “He is a phenomenal player who talks well and leads by example. It is great to have him back.”